They are going to be a lot of folks waking up in Memphis on Monday morning thinking it’s April Fools when they hear that the Grizzlies lost to the Clippers on Sunday night. Many fans probably went to bed thinking the game was in hand with the Grizzlies up by more than 20 points in the second half. I should know — I stopped watching when Memphis was up by 24 with eight minutes to play. But the Clippers didn’t quit and they came back from down as many as 27 points to beat the Grizzlies 99-98 in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series.
The Clippers went on a 26-1 run after O.J. Mayo hit a three to make it 95-71 with 9:12 left in the game. Bench players Reggie Evans, Eric Bledsoe, and Nick Young, along with starters Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, never gave up, and they continued to play hard in order to get the comeback win.
The Clippers ended the game on a 28-3 run. In that span, they shot 10-14, 4-5 on threes, and grabbed 14 boards. By comparison, the Grizzlies were 1-14 and had just three rebounds.
Memphis got complacent and stopped doing what gave them the lead. They stopped going inside to Marc Gasol on offense, and guys like O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, and Mike Conley, who were hot most of the game, went cold in the final eight minutes. They missed an easy layup, and Zach Randolph suddenly couldn’t buy a bucket. On defense, they got lazy with their rotations and left open guys like Eric Bledsoe and Nick Young who knocked down their threes. They also stopped crashing the glass hard, allowing Blake Griffin and Reggie Evans to grab them.
The comeback was of historic proportions. The Clippers tied a playoff record by coming back from down 21 entering the fourth quarter. Amazingly, Tony Allen, who was with the Celtics when they came back to beat the Nets in the ’02 playoffs, has now been on both ends of a game like this.
The Grizzlies can’t blame anyone for the choke job except themselves. The fans kept cheering loudly but nothing inspired the team to play hard in the final eight minutes. The Grizzlies were just trying to coast their way to victory and ended up losing. It was easily one of the best comebacks many of us have ever seen.
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